Julen Guerrero “Athletic Fans Are The Soul Of The Club”
Athletic’s decision to postpone the Copa del Rey final was met with celebration from fans and players. There has been almost unanimous agreement that the historic match shouldn’t take place behind closed doors, but waiting until next year could have negative consequences as well.
“For me there are three situations,” said former Athletic captain Julen Guerrero when speaking about the matter on Onda Cero. “First, Athletic fans are the soul of the club, they maintain the club, and they give the team an advantage at any time which helps. A final without fans would be sad. Both groups of fans deserve to enjoy this final.”
However, Guerrero also sees the danger of voluntarily postponing the final. “On the other hand, you could lose the chance to play in Europe because if the La Liga resumes Athletic has to finish in the top seven,” he points out. “Surely they have considered that part. Also, the club must value the money involved with being in Europe.”
Above all, the thing that worries Guerrero the most is that teams could change between now and whenever the final is played. The Athletic legend isn’t necessarily concerned with new signings, but rather those who will leave the clubs without the chance to enjoy the final.
“The most difficult thing is that if the final isn’t played until February for example, then there will be players who are no longer there. Some will leave the squad because they won’t be renewed and Aduriz plans to return. Imagine if the coaching staff doesn’t make it until the final is played for whatever reason…That situation saddens me. In the end, those who have reached the final and deserve to play it are the current squads of Athletic and Real.”
It’s become routine these days for Guerrero to get asked about his son, Julen Jon Guerrero, whenever he speaks to the media. The Spain U16 coach was full of praise for his son, but made it clear that there is still a long way to go.
“The truth is that he has extraordinary talent. Since he started playing when he was four years old he’s excelled at every level. His progression has been very good and he should be happy, but I always tell him that he has to continue working and wanting to be better every day, which is what everyone has to do during these formative ages. He’s working very hard and has the ambition to hopefully get to the top. He has the talent, but the important thing is that he’s happy.”
With Guerrero now working extensively with young players, he was also asked about the possibility of creating a separate league for reserve teams. In his opinion it could be good, although he doesn’t have any problems with the way things are right now.
“I honestly don’t know. A powerful league of reserve teams could be a good thing, you have to look at what is the best for the clubs. I could see either option as positive. I come from Athletic and every season there are two or three kids who debut with the first team and I don’t see that at other clubs, but I do see that clubs are working very hard and doing good things. To trust in youth you must be daring. You have to see that boy that you’ve been developing fo six or seven years and recognize that giving him an opportunity would be positive if he has the quality.”
Athletic fans are still hopeful that one day Julen Guerrero will return to the club, along with his son. After spending his entire career at San Mamés the legend has never closed the door on the idea of going back, but has readily admitted that he’s very happy in his current role.